Getting back on track detailed plan

Thanks everyone for your support on my “Getting back on track” plan.

As promised, I wanted to provide some details on what I’m planning on doing.

Step 1: Yoga every day for 30 minutes

I decided this as yoga is really good for both my physical body, but also my spiritual side. Often times I find after a good yoga class, I will have more perspective. I will always remember one yoga class I went to, I went into the class feeling extremely stressed out from my job, and having to work a lot. And by the time the class ended, and I was driving home, all I felt was gratitude for the life I had, where my biggest worry was having to work.

Therefore, for this requirement, it’s not so much that I’ll be doing a vinyasa flow everyday, but just some time on my mat.

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Step 2: Clean up my diet to eat more clean

As I shared on Friday, recently I’ve been eating out a lot. And while it hasn’t been anything crazy bad for me- sandwiches or a wrap at lunch, and then Thai curry or a salad for dinner, there’s been a lot of others mixed in. A glass of wine when I come home has become the norm for most days. Dessert after dinner is an every day occurrence, sometimes after lunch as well.

I’ve noticed a change in how I feel recently. Plus my skin is breaking out- which I am also not a fan of!

Therefore, the plan for clean eating is bringing it back to the basics. I’m not into doing a strict cleanse for 2 reasons. One is that work is still very busy for me, so if I start saying things like no sugar, no take-away, etc. then I will likely be setting myself up for failure. And two, I don’t think it’s reasonable to take away all things that are unhealthy. The whole point of this is to reset, and I best reset by allowing myself indulgences, but just changing the focus a bit.

So, my plan for the next two weeks is as follows: Focus on cooking more at home, eating whole foods, cutting back on alcohol (specifically no alcohol during the week), and only one cup of coffee in the morning (as I’m currently up to about 3 a day).

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Step 3: Get more sleep

The thing about working a lot, is that you still crave some relax time when you get home. So even when I work until midnight, or 1 am, it’s still ready hard to convince yourself to go home and go to bed right away. Your body needs some downtime! Therefore, throughout busy season, I have slowly started going to bed later and later. And when my alarm goes off in the morning- I hate everything and would trade my soul for another hour of sleep.

I think, at most, I get 6 hours of sleep a night during the week. Then on the weekend, I sleep in until noon because my body is desperately trying to catch up on the sleep it lost. It’s a terrible habit I’ve gotten into, and I am striving to sleep more.

I am starting off easy, and am aiming for 7 hours of sleep a night. While this still might be under what I should be getting, I think it’s a good goal for me to get started.

Anyone want to join along with me? I would still love some meal ideas, as well as tips on how to make sure I actually get to bed at a decent time (which I think will be the hardest part of my challenge).

Wish me luck!

Life update and upcoming personal challenge

Hi friends,

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. I feel like I’ve been saying this for a long time, but work has just been really busy lately, which hasn’t left much time for anything else.

To be honest with you all, I am super tired of how busy it’s been. 4 months in of working between 60-100 hours a week and I can’t tell you how badly I need a vacation. I have always been that person who doesn’t mind working extra hours. I would rather have a job that challenges me, then a job where I know that I will be leaving every day at 5 pm.

However, at a point, it becomes too much. This week, for example, I didn’t go grocery shopping on Sunday because I was working until 5 pm, and grocery stores in the UK are closed by that time. I figured I would go in the evening during the week, since they are open till 11 Monday-Friday.

Instead, I’ve been at work so late every night that I’ve eaten out every single meal this week. This morning, for breakfast, I had crackers and peanut butter because it’s all I have in the house. I mixed my coffee with hot chocolate because I’m out of sugar and milk.

It’s impacting all areas of my life- I’m tired from not sleeping enough, grumpy, not exercising, and not eating as well as I would like to.

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Mmm. cake….

So this morning, driving back from a client meeting, I was thinking about how much of a funk I am in right now. And I’ve decided I’m doing something about it.

So here’s my plan- for the next 2 weeks, I am going to spend some time taking care of myself. Yes, work is still busy, so this may not be the most perfect plan I’ve ever executed, but my goal is three fold:

  • Do at least 30 minutes of yoga every day for the next 2 weeks
  • Clean up my diet to eat more clean, and focus on bringing more healthy choices back into my life
  • Go to sleep earlier!

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I will share more with you for my entire plan in the next few days, and how it goes throughout the next couple of weeks. I’m off on a holiday on 3rd May, so if I can make the next two weeks more positive, rather than just counting down the days till I have some time off, then I count that as a win.

I don’t mean to be all negative on a blog post, but the reality is that it’s where I’m at right now, and my goal with my blog is to share both the fun parts of my life (with travels) as well as the crappy times (the oh so much work).

How’s everyone else doing? Does anyone have tips for some clean eating recipes? I’d love new ideas!

Easter weekend in Prague

Happy Wednesday friends :)

How was everyone’s Easter weekend?

Mine was amazing- I cannot say enough good things about Prague. I loved it so much! I took 160 pictures in 2 and a half days, because it was just so pretty. As such, I will try not to drown everyone in pictures. But honestly- if you have a chance to go to Prague, I highly recommend!

Assen and I flew out Thursday night, and by the time we arrived at the AirBnB place we were staying at, it was almost 2 am. So we went to bed, and had no exploring that day. We’ve both been working a lot lately, so we had decided early on that the focus of this trip was to relax. Therefore- no alarms! It unfortunately meant that the first day we actually had to explore, we didn’t leave the flat until about 1 pm. However, we made up for it.

Our first stop, was the Old Town Square, where there is a 15th century astrological clock, and an Easter market.

I could not stop taking pictures of the below church, which is the Church of our Lady before Tyn, and in the square. Something about the top made me think of a Disney movie castle (even though it is a church, not a castle).

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The clock, below, is the oldest working astrological clock in the world. When you read about things to do and see in Prague, it’s almost always listed as the first thing to see. We wandered by it (and came back at 8 pm, more on that below) but honestly, after looking at it for about 30 seconds, I was ready to move on for more sites.

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Before heading to Prague, I had read that it is one of the most touristy parts of Europe.  And after being there, I can definitely identify with that. The crowds in Prague were pretty crazy. I’m glad we were there for Easter and not during high tourist season, as I can’t imagine how crazy the crowds must be in the middle of the summer. It was a bit cold (definitely needed a warm jacket on the first day) but we spent a lot of our time outdoors and walking, and it was generally ok. I was glad to be there with fewer people, and just needing a jacket to be able to see everything that I wanted.

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We ended up wandering around the old town for quite some time, just stopping into shops. Prague seemed to have candy everywhere, including the below “treasure chest” candy store. I spent way too much money on candy there, and had a sugar high for the rest of the weekend.

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After the candy store, we wandered over to Charles Bridge. This is another stop that whenever you hear anything about Prague, it’s a “must-do”. The church was built in the 15th century, and there are 30 statues on the bridge (all replicas of the originals that were placed there in 1700). At one point it was the only bridge that connected the old town and Prague Castle, which I think is why it is so famous. Either way, it is beautiful.

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DSC04880  Once across the bridge, we went and saw the Prague Castle. Which, to be honest, I think we missed some of the sites on this as the actual site is massive. When you first enter, there is a beautiful large cathedral, and then around it, there are many more courtyards and buildings. But to be fair, the Guiness book of world records does list the Prague Castle as the largest ancient castle in the world, so it makes sense that we would’ve got a bit lost while wandering around.

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While wandering around Prague Castle, we came across a tourist spot which has you climb to the top of the tower for a viewpoint over the city. We paid our 150 Czech koruna (which is about 4 pounds each) to climb to the top. The stairs that you climbed went up in a very tight circle (going up and down, Assen and I had to stop and take a break as we were getting dizzy). It just continued to climb, and climb!

Despite being breathless, and having burning legs, the view from the top was stunning and absolutely worth it.

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We also saw the changing of the guard, which I’ve been asked about a few times from other people who have previously been to Prague Castle. The picture below looks like I’m marching with them, but really what happened was that we chased them half way around the Prague castle grounds so we could try and get a picture, and I ran ahead of Assen to try and be in the photo with them.

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At the end of us walking around Prague Castle, we wandered back over to Old Town (crossing another beautiful bridge), and decided that it was time to take a break. We found a little pub, and ordered a beer. Now, some of you may remember that I had said that I wasn’t a big beer fan, so wasn’t really anticipating much from the beer in Prague. However, I had several beers in Prague! The beer was really tasty. Maybe it was the pretzels that they placed on all the tables (still crunchy and salty, but massive pretzels) or maybe it was just that I was on holiday, but I enjoyed several beers over the course of the weekend.

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After all the walking, the stairs, the incline (Prague castle is on top of a steep hill!), Assen and I went for a massage after our beers. Thai massage places were seemingly very popular there (if anyone knows why, I am really curious!), so we wandered in and opted for a 30 minute neck and shoulder message. It was one of the best massages ever! Simultaneously, one of the most painful, and most relaxing massages I have had in a very long time. Both of us needed those 30 minutes to just sit and enjoy.

Once we were done there, we wandered back into Old Town, as we had been told the 8 pm show at the astrological clock was amazing to see.

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I want to find who told met this, as I can’t remember. If you are ever in Prague and see a big crowd gathering on the hour, just keep walking! I have no idea why this is a thing that people watch.

The doors open above the clock, and puppets go around in the circle for a little bit, and then the clock dings. It was so not worth the 20 minutes that we stood outside waiting for it to be 8 pm. I couldn’t stop laughing because I couldn’t believe that was what all the hype was about!

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After the rather disappointing 8 pm show, Assen and I found a Czech restaurant and enjoyed some amazing food. I may do a separate post on country specific food, so I’ll save those pictures for another time, but the food in Prague was so good. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore (and, had another beer with my dinner).

We called it an early night, and headed back to the place we were staying at after dinner. When we woke up the next day, the sun was shining and it was beautiful outside. Both of us were so excited that spring seemed like it was actually here!

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The final “touristy” thing that I had wanted to do was to go to the Jewish quarter in Prague. One of the main sites to see is the cemetery. This is because it is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. They don’t know how many people are buried here, because the cemetery has layers (up to 12 layers). Apparently it is against the Jewish religion to remove a tombstone, so when they ran out of room, they would just add more soil and start again, which is why all the tombstones are so close together now. It’s very old, and sounded really interesting, along with seeing the synagogues, and just generally the history that is here.

Unfortunately, as I am not Jewish and neither is Assen, neither of us remembered that Saturday is Shabbat, which means everything is closed. And so when we showed up on Saturday, not a thing was open. And Passover was the next day, so it was all closed then as well. As such, we had missed our chance to actually see anything, which was a bit of a tourist fail. I managed to snap the below picture of the cemetery…

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And then Assen took a picture of how I was standing to get the picture. But hey- at least I kind of got to see it, right?

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We wandered around for a bit and then headed back to the Easter market in the old town. Everywhere we went we had been seeing these chimney cakes (which I continue to call tunnel cakes and Assen laughs at me). Everywhere we went, we saw them being roasted over coals, and they looked and smelt delicious. I had told Assen that I wanted to try one about 15 times, and when we got back to the Easter market, I finally did.

And then I had 2 more over the next 8 hours….cause they were delicious.

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Unsure of what to do next, we wandered back towards the water, and found a little restaurant right on the water. Neither of us were hungry (I swear, all we did was eat), but we decided to sit in the sun, enjoy the day, and of course- have another beer :)

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We sat and chatted, enjoying the sun, for so long that suddenly we realised we were about to be late. We had to run up to Prague Castle (remember how I said it was on a hill? I wanted to die- so many steps!)

The previous day we had purchased tickets to see the Prague Orchestra play in St George’s Basilica, which is the oldest church in Prague and part of the Prague castle.  The Basilica was originally founded in 920, and was the perfect place to listen to a live orchestra play Vivaldi and Mozart. It was so beautiful to just sit and listen.

Every once and a while, on my travels, I have a moment where it kind of hits me that I’m off somewhere completely different, and experiencing something completely new. I had it when I first moved to the UK and was sat chatting with a girl from Australia, a girl from Scotland, and 2 guys from London; I had it the first time I had pasta in Italy; and I definitely had it while sitting in an old church, listening to the classical music in Prague.

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The show itself was only about an hour long, so afterwards, we had an opportunity to wander along by the river, and enjoy the last bit of a beautiful day.

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That night we headed out to a cocktail bar that had been recommended to us by our taxi driver when we first arrived. We had a few cocktails, and just chatted away until pretty late before wandering back to the flat.

Needless to say, the next day, we started the day a little later than planned. As it was our last day, and we had seen most of what we wanted to see, we really just took the opportunity to relax and enjoy a bit more downtime before we had to go. We wandered around a few shops, though neither of us bought anything, and tried to use the last of our Czech koruna (as they do not use Euro….despite what we previously thought and had pulled out before arriving there).

We ended our last day with a beer at the Easter market (and of course, a selfie).

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It was truly  a great weekend with activity, relaxing, and, a lot of food and beer. However, we also did our fair share of walking. I didn’t realise it beforehand, but on iPhones, there is an app called “Health” and it tracks your exercise. As such, I can now tell you that over the 2.5 days that Assen and I were in Prague, we walked a total of 40 km! So although we ate and drank, we also got our fair share of exercise :)

I hope everyone else had a great Easter weekend too! I’d love to hear if others have been to Prague, what they though. Also- what did everyone else get up to this weekend?

Recent meals I’ve enjoyed

Hi all,

I’ll be back soon with a recap of my time in Prague, but wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter weekend.

Hopefully you’re enjoying some chocolate and a relaxing weekend.

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As I’ve been eating out a lot recently, with working a lot plus all the traveling I’ve been doing, when I am at home, I’ve been going back to the basics with my meals. Since I used to blog a lot about food, I thought I would bring that aspect back into my blogging occasionally, and share with you all some recent food that I’ve been making.

Apologies for the bad pictures, as I usually snap them right before I dig in and am absolutely starving. As such, the photo has one chance to work out, otherwise it’s too late!

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This meal took a total of 15 minutes to put together and was delicious. I had some chicken already cooked in the fridge, so I cut it up with some peppers and mushrooms, and sauteed that while I cooked the pasta. Then I tossed it all together with a jar of tomato sauce, and had a handful of cherry tomatoes on the side (just to up the vegetables I was eating).

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This picture looks gross but it was so good. I’ve started buying curry paste, and therefore I found I make shrimp curry every couple of weeks. While the rice cooks, I will stir-fry up peppers, snap peas, mushrooms, and some baby corn. Once they’re soft, I’ll add the coconut milk with a pinch of salt and wait until it simmers to add the shrimp. I then add the curry paste as well, and then mix it all together. The rice is served underneath the delicious curry. This meal again takes about 20 minutes to make. (You can also see the mini-eggs at the corner of the picture, which I enjoyed for a delicious dessert.)

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This one took a bit longer, due to the sweet potatoes. However, I find this meal is easy to leave while I work out, since the oven does all the work. I sliced up the sweet potatoes and left them to roast in the oven. I also roasted the chicken in the oven, with some poultry seasoning I bought at the grocery store. Served on the side is a cucumber, tomato, corn salad with some feta cheese.

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You may have noticed all my meals are quick and easy. When you only have limited time, you have to make it work. This picture does not do the meal justice, as it was very tasty. For this meal, I wrapped the salmon, pepper, cherry tomato and mushroom in tin foil, with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. I let those cook in the oven, while I chopped up the cucumber and tomato and let it marinade in a balsamic vinegar dressing.

What’s everyone else been enjoying lately? I would love some new ideas, as I find deciding what to make is always the hardest part of dinner!

A quick trip to Zagreb, Croatia

Happy Wednesday!

I am so excited, as tomorrow, Assen and I are off to Prague for the Easter weekend :) Cannot wait for some time with him, as well as exploring around Prague. If anyone’s been, I would love recommendations of things to do and see.

The only main thing I know we’ll be missing is a beer tour, as neither of us are huge beer fans. Although, I will be trying some beer while there, since Prague is supposed to have the best beer in the world.

But enough of trips going forward, first- let’s look back at my trip to Zagreb, Croatia, just a few short weeks ago!

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So the first two days that I was in Zagreb, I barely saw anything at all. Due to work, I saw the inside of the client location, and then the inside of the hotel. Thankfully, on Thursday night, we managed to leave work at a decent time, and decided we would try and see the city a little bit. The main thing that people told us to see was the old Square and the cathedral. The cathedral itself was beautiful.

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The church is incredibly white, as most of it has been rebuilt since a major earthquake in 1880. From as far as what I could tell, based off what I read while there, it’s been a major reconstruction since then, which is still ongoing.

I’m sad to say that I did not take any pictures of the food while there, because every meal I ate while in Croatia was incredible. The seafood itself was spectacle, with fresh dishes that were incredibly flavourful. One of the major Croatian themes seems to be truffles- and I had a black truffle pasta as a starter one day which was absolutely incredible. I’m still kind of kicking myself for not buying some truffle oil to bring home.

Another thing I really enjoyed while in Zagreb was Croatian wine. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a bottle at the airport before flying home. I have to admit that before being in Zagreb, I hadn’t even been aware that Croatia made wine, but it was often served at the restaurants we were eating at, and I was very glad that I tried it!

On the Friday night, after a long day of work, my colleagues and I went out for some drinks on the main strip in Zagreb. There was a street which was lined on both sides with bars and cafes, all blaring Croatian music (which was very fun and dance-y). We enjoyed a few cocktails at a couple of different locations, though I only managed to snap the below pic of us out at our first location.

 

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The Saturday I was left on my own, as everyone else flew out with early morning flights. After having explored the cathedral and town center, there was honestly not much more to see. Although Zagreb is a capital city, I found that when I researched the city itself, there was not much to do, beyond museums (which, as I may have mentioned in the past, I am typically not a big fan of). However, I made do and wandered back to the cathedral, where I was able to snap a few more pictures and actually go inside.

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I find that everytime I visit a new European city, I always spend a lot of time wandering around the old churches and cathedrals. They’re always just awe inspiring, with the artwork, the size, and just the dedication of time that has been spent on these beautiful buildings.

There was a stone wall surrounding parts of Zagreb, and an old clock, which has not worked since the earthquake in the 1800’s, which I found pretty cool to wander by.

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The thing that I really liked about Zagreb were all the orange roof’s. They definitely made me feel like I was in a different part of the world, as it’s not often to see all roof’s the same colour.

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I also happened across a fantastic open market, where they were selling all types of produce, as well as types of beautiful  flowers. Almost all of the women I passed were holding beautiful bouquets. I was very tempted to buy some flowers for myself, though wasn’t sure how I would then get them home on the plane.

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I sat at a coffee shop for awhile, and people watched. I found Croatia reminded me a lot of Bulgaria, in that the women were very fashionable and beautifully put together. Despite that it was a cold, windy day, every woman I saw looked absolutely impeccable.

I rounded out my trip back at my hotel, where there was a beautiful pool, sauna and steam room on the 10th floor of the hotel. I watched the sun set while I lazily floated around in the beautiful pool.

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I was too warm after this time to head back outside, so I ended up eating dinner at the hotel, while a live band played. It was a very short tour of Zagreb, and while I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return to Zagreb, I very much want to return to Croatia and enjoy some time on the beach.

Has anyone else spent some time in Zagreb? Since I have a client located there, I’ll likely have to go back in September time. Is there anything I should see then that I missed?

Busy work and relaxing weekend

Hi friends!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. Since I last posted, work has absolutely exploded for me. While many of my friends will be tired of hearing me whine and complain about the hours I’ve been working, I figure I can whine and complain just a little more. A quick snapshot of the last week and a half:

Sunday, 15 March- spent the day traveling back from Zagreb, Croatia. By the time I got home, it was 6 pm, and I had time to go out for a nice dinner with Assen, after being away all week.
Monday, 16 March- worked from 8:30 am- 12:30 am.
Tuesday, 17 March- worked from 7:30 am- midnight
Wednesday, 18 March- worked from 9 am- 11:30 pm
Thursday, 19 March- had to drive 3 hours to my client, left my house at 7 am. Worked until 7:30 pm. Had a meal out with my team that night which was great fun, though meant I did not get to bed until 1 am.

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Champagne cocktail that I had that night. Delicious but deadly!

 
Friday, 20 March- worked from 8:00 am- 4:00pm, drove home for 3 hours, worked an additional 2 hours once I got home
Saturday, 21 March- slept in, as I was exhausted. Started working at 11:30 am- 1:00 am
Sunday, 22 March- slept in again. Worked from 11:30 am- midnight, with a glorious 3 hour break in the middle to chat with my mom and sister.
Monday, 23 March- worked 8 am- 1 am
Tuesday, 24 March- worked 8:30 am- 1 am

Thankfully, my client deadline was early Wednesday morning, which meant I took Wednesday off and just laid in bed. I had all these glorious plans of working out, cleaning my house, making food- but instead I slept until 11, and then sat on the couch and watched tv for the entire day. But I think that’s exactly what I needed after working 127 hours in 9 days.

I know I owe you guys a recap on my time in Zagreb (and I promise that’ll be the next post), but figured I would share my weekend with you first, as after my few days of absolute insane working, I had a few really nice days over the weekend.

Friday was the celebration of the end of busy season. The nice thing about working at the firm that I do is that everyone is quite young, and therefore we hang out together, and have fantastic social events. This event was a cocktail making event, where they had 4 different kinds of drinks you could learn how to make, and they let us lose with bottles of alcohol. The drinks were actually quite tasty, and it was nice just to hang out with people I hadn’t seen in awhile and have a few drinks.

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Although we did head out to a club afterwards, neither Assen or I stayed long, as we had plans for the next day.

Saturday we were up at a good time, and took the train into London. London has a fantastic market by the London Tower (called Borough market). It’s London’s most renowned market, and has a great mix of cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables, as well as food from all over the world. We had lunch there and then wandered around. I got some great finds, including some spices, flavoured balsamic vinegar, and blood oranges, and enjoyed many more nibbles with the free tastings.

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There was also a great wall where they had lines saying “Before I die, I want to” and people had written in chalk many different answers (as per below). It was fantastic to just hang out and read what people had said. I loved how many were about marrying their loves, or learning more about themselves. Some were funny (such as “Mind the gap”, which is what is said at every tube stop in London). Assen and I had a great chat about things we wanted to do before we died.

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We then waited in a line for 30 minutes so we could go up the Shard (the tallest building in London) for a cocktail. The drinks were pricey (about 15 pounds per cocktail) but were delicious, and the view made it more than worthwhile. We had to stand for a bit when we first got there, but then happened to see a table packing up- right by the window! It was such a great spot, and we both enjoyed just being able to sit and chat, and have nothing to do for a little while.

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(bonus was Tower of London and the London Bridge in the background)

We ended our day in London at our favourite Italian restaurant in town. The restaurant reminds me of being in Italy, down to the servers often not knowing words in English. The food is authentic and so delicious! Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures of our food, or the restaurant, as I was too busy eating everything I could, as quickly as possible.

We were back in Cambridge by about 10:30, and sat on the couch watching a movie in the evening. It was a great day of activity, and relaxing.

Today is back to the grind of cleaning house, grocery shopping, and all that “adult stuff” that always seems to pile up.

What did everyone else do this weekend? Anyone have anything fun to add to “Things you’d like to do before you die…”?

Be back later this week with a very delayed recap of my Croatia trip!

 

Santorini, Greece

As we continue through to the second part of my Greece trip, I will try and not flood this post with pictures. But I’m not going to lie- that’s going to be very, very hard for me. As Santorini was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

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Interestingly enough, Santorini is sometimes connected as being the actual “lost city of Atlantis”. The city was inhabited and was thriving prior to a volcanic eruption that covered the island in 1640 BC. Even though there have been many, many findings that lead to explanations of how people back then lived (a rich farming community, that grew wine, a large port, etc.) they have never found a single human body. Therefore, it seems like everyone got away before the volcano erupted.

Whether or not, Santorini is the lost city, there is an old, inactive volcano that is close by, and therefore natural hot springs (which I would classify more as warm than anything) and some beautiful beaches. It is an amazing place to visit.

My mom and I took a boat in to Santorini, which took about 7 hours from Athens. It was quite a bit cheaper to take the boat (rather than fly), and I thought it would be a nice, relaxing day- and I was right. I ended up taking about 15 pictures of the water along the way as it was so crystal blue. Definitely a long way to get there, but I still enjoyed it.

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We hadn’t pre-arranged how we would get from the boat to the hotel, and as you step off the boat you are swarmed by people trying to convince you to stay at their hotel, and transport you there. We sat and waited until the crowd had died down, and ended up getting a cheap deal that dropped us off directly at our hotel.

We were a 5 minute walk from Fira, and it was stunning. The buildings are all white, and built on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. We spent the entire day just wandering around the streets (which are a fantastic labyrinth) and enjoying the heat.

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The second day, we went back down to the water, as we had signed up for a boat trip that would take us to the hot springs, as well as let us hike around the old dormant, volcano (which is on a separate island).

 

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Swimming around the hot springs was kind of weird to be honest. You have to swim into the hot springs, so when you first get into the water, it is absolutely freezing. Plus because of the sulfur, it’s a weird brown colour. Eventually it does get warmer, but it was tepid at best.

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The old volcano was really cool to wander around. We had about an hour to hike about- and it was just beautiful to see how much vegetation was growing on it (which made me think of The Incredibles, where the bad guy lives on a volcano where he grows all his own food).

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As the buildings at Santorini are located on the top of the cliffs, to go from the water to the buildings, there are 4 options: you can drive, you can take a cable car, you can ride a donkey, or you can walk 600 steps up. My mom and I decided that rather than paying the 2 Euros to ride the donkey, we would walk up the steps after our day of swimming and hiking around the volcano. We had to stop several times because we were gasping so hard from being short of breath! Who needs a gym when you can just climb up 600 steps!

The next day we rented a car, and drove to the other side of the island. The island has a black beach (named after it’s black sand), a white beach (as the sand is normal sand colour), and a red beach, because the cliffs have red soil. We went to both the black beach, and the red beach- and they were beautiful.

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I loved the red beach the best, as there were these random doors on the side of the cliff. I think they were change rooms, but I am sad to say that I never actually checked! I’m still curious what was behind the doors!

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We ended our final day by going to Oia, which is known for having one of the most beautiful sunsets. I wish we had gotten there earlier, as by the time we arrived, there was nowhere to sit to watch the sunset as there were crowds everywhere. Instead, we found a nice spot to lean against a stone wall, and watched as the sun went down.

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It was such a beautiful place to visit.

One day I’d love to go back to Greece with friends, as I have heard the islands are amazing to go out and dance in. But a vacation with my mom didn’t really cover that, as we would generally have some wine and just catch up after a long absence.

I cannot wait for May, when she is back again, and we can finally have some more time together. Now if only I could convince my sister to join us, the trip would be perfect

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Has anyone else been to Greece? Where was your favourite spot?

Athens, Greece

Happy Wednesday friends,

How’s everyone’s week going? Mine’s been good so far- though started at a terribly early time yesterday, as I had to be leaving the house for 4:30 am in order to catch my morning flight to Zagreb. An alarm going off at 4 am is pretty much the worst thing ever!

I don’t have pictures of Croatia yet, as so far it’s just been me working either at the client office, or working at my hotel (with taxi’s taking me between each place). I will be exploring more this weekend, and will be able to catch you up then with what I saw and how it was.

But first, I thought we would continue down my memory lane trip, to a trip I took almost a year ago- when I spent 8 days in Greece. This trip was made especially fantastic, as I went there with my mom. We spent 4 days in Athens, and 4 days on the island Santorini.

First up, Athens. My mom and I arrived in Athens a bit later in the day, and the first thing on my mind was finding a restaurant where I could shout “Opa!” and break a plate. Lucky for us, I’m not the only one wanting to do this, so we found a place almost immediately.

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I learnt that I’m not very good at breaking plates, as after I threw the plate on the ground, it was mostly still intact. I picked it up and threw it down again, and it was still mostly intact. I break a lot of glasses at home, and always seem to shatter those quite well- so maybe next time I should just accidentally knock the plate over. It seems to work well for those wine glasses I keep breaking.

Our hotel in Athen was so perfectly placed. The view below was from the rooftop patio that you could enjoy an evening drink, as well as eat your breakfast from in the morning.

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The view below here is from the other side of the hotel, and was “The Temple of Zeus”. We never actually went to see this close up, as we figured the view from our hotel was just as good as anything we would’ve seen actually being on the ground.

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Our first full day in Greece, my mom and I started out with a bus tour, which took you around to the sites. I had a good laugh as we bought our tickets, as the bus driver asked if I was over 12, as otherwise I could’ve bought a child’s ticket. I like to think I’m ageing well, but I am quite obviously above 12 so I’m still very confused about what the driver was thinking on that one. Perhaps he figured it was a compliment?

The bus tour is meant to be a “hop on, hop off” sort of a ticket, as you have 24 hours to ride this bus from the time you buy your ticket. However, my mom and I decided to stay on the bus the entire ride, and then afterwards stop off at the sites that we wanted to see more of.

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My favourite Greek corner.

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After the bus tour, we found ourselves hiking up a bajillion steps to find a stunning view of Athens. The place is called Lycabettus hill, and it is 278 metres high above Athens. The view definitely made the climb worth it- but the picture below was taken so that we could catch our breath more than anything.

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Each day, my mom and I took it pretty easy, with generally some site seeing, and then a meal where we would sit and chat for hours. This was good because the service in Greece is soooo slow. We’d arrive at the restaurant, absolutely starving, and would desperately be trying to catch the eye of our server so that he or she would come over and place our order. However, at times it almost felt like they were intentionally ignoring us as they quickly whizzed by us. It was made worthwhile though, as I love Greek food and the food was amazing.

Interstingly enough, the food was better in Athens than on the island. Greek yogurt has forever been ruined for me, as the creamy, tasty, amazingness that is actual Greek yogurt is NOTHING like the greek yogurt you can buy from the local grocery store. And the feta cheese…mmmm- I would go back just for more feta cheese.

Anyways, moving on (as I have just made myself incredibly hungry), day 2, my mom and I went to visit the Parthenon. For those who are unfamiliar, the Parthenon is the formal temple that was dedicated to Athena, the goddess the city is named after. Construction of it began in 438 BC, and to this day is considered the high part of Greek art. The Parthenon is just one building, whereas the entire area is the Acropolis. You should definitely carve out a few hours to see the entire area. Everything that I read said to go either early in the day, or later in the evening, as the crowds can be pretty intense during high tourist season. Thankfully, May (when I was there), wasn’t too crazy and while there were tourists about, it was never too busy to be able to see what we wanted.

Such as, the theater below:

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Some areas can be more remote than others, and this area, with nature almost taking over the stairs allowed me to feel what it might have been like to have lived in Ancient Greek times.

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There is a ton of construction happening at the Acropolis. I was actually a bit dissapointed when I realised that part of the reason why there is still so much here to see, is because it is actually being rebuilt. They have removed a lot of the originals, where you can now see the actual artifacts in museums, and are replacing the actuals with copies. However, the scale of the size of this, and thinking of the technology they had to build everything, still blew my mind.

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Above is an olive tree which is perfectly placed outside one of the ancient buildings, and ties in beautifully with the fable of how Athens got its name.

A legendary creature named Cecrops built a beautiful city at the top of a hill. Cecrops was half man and half snake and called his city Cecropia. The gods of Olympus became jealous of this beautiful city. It was located in a stunning region and was prosperous, yet the city did not pay any tribute to them. Two gods emerged as the primary contenders for who the city should be name after: the god of the sea, Poseidon, and the goddess of wisdom, Athena. They both pleaded with Zeus, the ruler of the gods, to become the patron deity of Cecropia.

After thorough consideration, Zeus arrived at a decision. Both gods would present King Cecrops and his citizens with a gift. The citizens would choose a gift, and the corresponding god would become the patron deity and the city would be renamed in his or her honour.

After weeks of preparation, the two gods were prepared to present their gifts to the city. On a beautiful, sunny day, the citizens gathered on a hill to receive their gifts. First, Poseidon stepped to the highest point of the hill. He struck his legendary trident into the hilltop, creating a fountain of water. Poseidon declared, “Choose me as your patron god, and I will provide you with a never-ending flow of water. You shall never again experience a drought or thirst.”

The citizens were thrilled, at first; however, they quickly discovered that the water tasted of salt, as Poseidon was the god of the sea. They knew from their experience with sea water that it would not satisfy their thirst nor would it help their crops.

Athena then took the place of Poseidon. She held out her hand to reveal a single seed. She threw it into the ground, where it immediately took root and grew into an olive tree. Athena gently declared, “With me as your patron goddess, I will plant these trees all throughout the region. You will be able to harvest these trees for food, oil and firewood.” Astounded, everyone in attendance exclaimed, “Athena!”

And hence- Athens :)

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Day 3- my mom and I spent the better part at the museum. We learnt more about the Acropolis and saw a lot of the items which used to be actually at the Acropolis but have now been moved to the museum (when I went to the British museum a few months ago, I finally saw many more of the ancient relics, as the British stole a bunch of the artifacts a while back, and the government is now fighting to get them back).

After the museum, we just wandered around the city. One of my favourite parts of Athens was that you can be wandering down almost any street, and suddenly you are amonst old ruins which were a University that was set up by Plato.

 

 

 

 

 

Athens was a great place to visit, and I absolutely adored my time there.

However, the beauty of Greece is magnified even further on the islands, and where I want to go back and spend even more of my time.

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International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

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Personally, equality for women is something that I hugely believe in.

Up until I was 19, and took my first Sociology class, I can honestly say I never felt discriminated against because I was a woman. There are studies (here)  that show that teachers will give boys more time to answer questions, and will ask different questions to boys so that they can expand more onto the conversation. I also found this study interesting, which relates to how boys and girls receive different feedback and that changes how they learn and deal with challenges.

I was lucky in that my personal experience was not in line with the statistics. I was always a huge nerd in school, and I loved to learn. As such, I would often be the person who was answering the questions raised by the teacher (sometimes just because I was bored and couldn’t believe that no one else would answer the seemingly very obvious question). I felt encouraged by my teachers, and by my friends, to continue to learn, and Math was my favourite subject (which probably had something to do with me becoming an accountant), with Biology a very close second. I was encouraged to enter into a full Advanced Placement program in high school, and I received early admission into University, majoring in Science before changing my degree to Commerce.

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But my experience is not typical of what a lot of other girls and women experience. And once I took the first Sociology class in University, where I started to question if women were being treated in the same way as men, I started seeing more of it.

Women are under-represented in most high-earning careers. There are articles everywhere about this- with a quick google search I found articles where women are under-represented in science; in technology; in academia; and pretty much any other career choice that you search.

Women are graduating univeristy at the same rate, or at higher rates, than men, but are continuing to drop out of the work world. And I feel like at this point I should add the ever so important caveat- if that is what a woman wants, then that is 100% fine. This issue, for me, is not about making it so that every single woman is a business tycoon. It’s about ensuring that the opportunity is there for the women who do want to do it.

I think that women should be accepted for whatever choice they want to make. And for that matter- so should men!

If a woman wants to stay at home, and raise her children- that’s great. If a man wants to stay at home and raise his children- that’s great too. Men are also discriminated against – in that, they are expected to achieve business success, and if they want to give up their career to be more active in their families live, they are shamed, and told they are not “a man”.

If a woman wants to succeed in the work world, that’s great too! Let’s create the opportunities so that she is receiving the same chances to do this.

With the recent focus on Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”, and celebrities endorsing movements like BanBossy, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, there is an ever increasing focus on trying to do the right things to change this.

I love the focus that this issue is getting, and I hope it continues to grow and spread until girls and boys are both raised with the idea that they can achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve. And so how I am celebrating International Women’s Day is to continue to spread the word. Women and men- let’s find what we want to do, and do it! Without judging others for their choices!

What are your thoughts out there? Do you believe women are still discriminated against?

Yogi Rant

Happy Wednesday everyone! Mid-way through the week :)

Anyone celebrating with some yoga?

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I wanted to share with everyone one of my pet peeves. And I am calling it a yogi rant because I am about to rant about it, and hey- the website is called  Yogi in Action, therefore I am qualifying myself as a yogi :)

So-what’s my rant about? Our society’s obsession with the concept of “You deserve this. You earned it.”

I was working out the other day, in a quite intensive barre class. And we took a 30 second break to stretch out our legs about mid-way through the class. And the instructor continued to repeat “Enjoy this! You earned it- you deserve it.”

Um- say what? Why do I need to earn a leg stretch? And that comment had my brain thinking of how often we tell ourselves this. We barter with ourselves on what we have to do to be able to enjoy something.

And this just sets us up for failure. Because when we’ve been denying ourselves what we want for so long, the thing that we’re working towards “deserving” has to become bigger and better. It has to make up for everything that we’ve been putting off, and all the pain we’ve gone through. And eventually- no matter how great the reward is, it just can’t make it worth while.

I remember, back in my days of calorie counting, when I made myself a peppermint hot chocolate at home. I measured out the teaspoons exactly as described on the instructions (therefore, ensuring I had the correct calorie count included for the day) and mixed in the hot water. I sat on the couch, sipping my drink and all I could think was how the calories weren’t “worth it”. I wasn’t enjoying my drink enough to make it worth those calories.

My philosophy now is a tad different than that person I was 7 years ago. Now I say f*ck it!

You want the hot chocolate right now? Drink it (and you’re going to want to use about twice the prescribed mix, and you should probably have some milk in there too for flavour). Have that croissant too if that’s what you want.

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You want to stretch out your legs without an intensive work out? Great! Enjoy that stretch!!

You want to lay around all day and watching movies? Have fun!

Let’s all enjoy life right now, and stop needing ourselves to earn that enjoyment first.

So happy Wednesday everyone! Go and enjoy your day :) I’ll be enoying a yoga class, and then a little bit of wine!

I’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of the “you deserve it” mindset? Or, what’s you pet peeve?